It was 8am and Wilson wasn't sure he was doing the right thing. He had just pulled up in front of House's place but he hesitated to get out of his car.
He had spoken to Lisa before leaving work last night. It was too late anyway, so he didn't say anything, but tricking House where medication was concerned was never a good idea. He had been there – thoughts of that sordid bet to go without Vicodin for a week came to mind. To this day, he felt a certain measure of shame whenever he thought of it. So he didn't tell Lisa that all she had done was make matters worse. In his view she shouldn't have told House about the saline, as much satisfaction as she had probably felt at that moment. Having started the game she should have just reduced the 'dosage' and then after a while refused to continue the injections. No harm done and House would have had a few days of pain relief without any side effects.
Too late now, though. He had no idea how House had taken the revelation. All Lisa had said was that he had looked stunned and then left. Neither of them had heard from him since. Knowing House, he had probably ended up in a bar somewhere and gotten horribly drunk. But then he saw House's car parked just a few spaces from him – so he hadn't gotten drunk because he wouldn't have driven home by himself if he had. House was reckless but he wasn't stupid.
Whatever House had done last night, Wilson thought it would be a good idea to check up on him. Since House hadn't answered his cell all night, this was his first opportunity. He was going to offer him a ride in to work, despite the early hour.
The apartment remained silent after his obligatory knock on the door. Wilson wasn't surprised; House was probably still asleep.
He used his own key to let himself in. The place was dark and stuffy, the curtains were still closed and there was a slight smell of alcohol. House's backpack and his coat were on the floor. So he hadn't gone to a bar and gotten drunk – he had done that at home. All things considered, it was probably the safer option.
"House", Wilson called as he closed the door. He didn't really expect an answer; but he needed to announce himself somehow.
Not a sound. Right, time to knock on the bedroom door to see if House wanted a ride in to work or not.
He was making his careful way through the gloom when he was distracted by something.
"House? Are you up?"
The sound had come from behind the couch. When the realization hit that nobody but House was in the apartment, he rushed forward, not thinking or looking where he went.
His foot hit something metal and he nearly tripped. It was when he looked down to see what it was, that he spotted House behind the couch.
Everything happened too fast to really know what he did first, but seconds later he found himself on the floor, House's upper body leaning against his, his fingers frantically searching for a pulse. It was there, of course, but so fast, he had trouble counting. Too fast, too damn fast. House's respirations were shallow and slow, his t-shirt was soaked with sweat and he was unresponsive.
"House, what happened? Did you take something? What did you take?"
House was in his pajamas, no shoes, no socks. And the metal thing Wilson had nearly tripped over – he could now see the end of a crutch sticking out from behind the couch.
"House, what the hell happened? Where do the crutches come from? House!" Shaking him only elicited a barely audible groan from House. He really had to find out what and how much House had taken to figure out if he needed to get him to the hospital. House would kill him when he came out of whatever this was and found himself in the ER. He would not want anyone to see him in this state. Having Wilson find him would be bad enough.
It took Wilson until that moment to see House's right hand was clamped around his thigh. Oh shit. When Wilson carefully touched House's leg through the thin fabric, he felt that not only the original injury site but the whole thigh was rock hard. Oh shit.
He'd seen this before. Breakthrough pain had been a more or less regular occurrence after the infarction. He should have recognized the signs before. House had not had an episode like this in years. Then Wilson looked at the crutches. He hadn't had any idea House even owned a pair of crutches, let alone used them.
And he had all but told House the pain was all in his head.
"Oh House", was all he could think of saying. Wilson tried to pull his cell phone out of his pocket without letting go of House. Chase or Foreman would be able to help and keep this on the downlow. He ended up putting House on his side, in case he vomited, and then fumbled for his pocket. Behind his back, his fingers grazed something hard and cold, something square.
Oh no. He recognized that box. It held House's emergency morphine stash. Wilson didn't know House still had it. He didn't know he still needed it. But, as he had found out this morning, there were a lot of things he didn't know. So that's what House had taken.
Then why was he still so rigid? His muscles should've relaxed by now. Wilson grabbed the box, his cell phone forgotten in his pocket.
The box was locked.
It looked like House hadn't managed to open it. How long had he been like this? By the looks of it definitely longer than minutes, possibly hours. His hands were ice cold, especially the one clamped around his leg. So House hadn't taken anything or at least no morphine. He had probably taken plenty of Vicodin to contain the pain. Then it dawned on Wilson - being told by Cuddy and his best friend that he was imagining things, House had stubbornly held off on the morphine until it was too late. He must have passed out before he could open the box.
Getting Chase or Foreman here or an ambulance would only waste precious time. He would have to give House the morphine himself. Wilson grabbed the box and was dismayed to see it had a combination lock.
Shit. Shit, shit, shit.
"House", he shouted, "I need the combination for the box. House, wake up. This is important!"
He couldn't rouse him this way but he had to do something. Now that he knew House hadn't taken anything, he could make him a bit more comfortable. So he pulled a few cushions down from the couch and carefully turned House on his back, slipping one cushion under his head and another under his right leg. Wilson winced when he had to lift House's leg for this because no matter how gentle he was, even the lightest touch would cause House yet more pain. He sat back against the back of the couch.
Think, Wilson. What could the combination be? Four digits, that's all he needed.
"House? House!" Wilson looked at his friend whose eyes were now half open. "I need the combination."
He grabbed House's shoulders, trying to get the urgency across. House's pupils were blown and he was still covered in sweat, no matter how many times Wilson had wiped his face by now.
"House – the box! You need the morphine, give me the combination!"
What if House had forgotten the combination? What if… No. He wouldn't pick something he would forget, ever. Not even in extreme pain. It had to be something really simple. Simple in House terms, that is.
"Date", House finally managed to grind out.
Okay, okay, a date. What date? He tried House's birthday, the year he met Stacy, the year of the infarction – nothing.
Damn. He couldn't figure this out. It could be anything, going by how House's brain worked sometimes. The year a guitar was built or the birthday of House's favorite aunt.
House didn't have a favorite aunt, dammit. It had to be something else. House was in pain, who knew what he saw or heard wherever his mind was right now. Wilson never knew what went on when House was in pain. He had never asked. He had never wanted to know. Now he did. But it was too late, he couldn't find out because House couldn't tell him what he saw. Too little, too late.
"New… ", the rest of what he said was incomprehensible.
"New what, House?"
House's eyes closed again. No. Not now. He couldn't pass out again. A new combination? Had House forgotten the new combination? Was that why he hadn't managed to open the box?
"Don't go to sleep, please! I don't know the combination. House, please…" He was desperate. He couldn't handle seeing House like this. There had been similar situations in the past, but never like this. Never so that all the responsibility lay on Wilson.
Wilson gave up. His shoulders slumped, he cradled House back against his chest and shook his head.
"I don't get it, House. I can't keep up with you. I don't know where you are right now and what you're trying to say. I'm calling Chase or Foreman."
A cough from House and then, "New… Orleans."
If Wilson hadn't been holding House so close he probably wouldn't have understood it this time either.
New Orleans? The year they met? Simple as that?
Frantically Wilson punched the digits into the lock and gave a great sigh of relief when the lid opened. Thank God. It was all there, syringe, morphine, swabs, everything.
He tied off House's arm with his own belt and hoped he would find a vein. And he did. Easy, it popped right up. No other marks either, he noted in passing. House hadn't injected anything recently.
Having given House a dose that should be safe but still take care of the worst pain, he finally felt the tension ease. He dropped the empty syringe; his hand was shaking that much. He would have to remember to dispose of it later.
Next to him House now rested back down on the floor. The deep creases in his face seemed to be smoothing out right in front of Wilson's eyes. House's right hand was still holding on to his leg, though, so Wilson put his on top.
"Hey…", he said, squeezing House's hand lightly. "You'll be feeling better any minute now. The worst is over."
His eyes were still closed but something tugged at the corner of House's mouth. He was trying to smile. Wilson chuckled. House would be okay. "You couldn't just give me the numbers, could you? You're nearly passed out with pain and you still have to play games. You're an ass, House!"
"Moron...", House countered. And then, just before he finally fell asleep: "What took you so long?"